By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
Home exterminator, Michael Bakke, 62, (left) specializes in removing wayward bats from residences around his hometown of La Crosse Wisconsin. He calls the company “Wisconsin Bat Specialists.” Seems he also sidelines in stealing rare musical instruments from the elderly and the blind. Hired in early June to help a widow remove the pesky creatures, Bakke helped himself to a rare mandolin the homeowner had decided to auction. The theft occurred when the sightless homeowner asked Bakke’s wife to check to see if the mandolin was upstairs. When she did not immediately return, Bakke went upstairs explaining his wife had a language barrier and might be confused. Bakke was not at sixes and sevens in the least and spying the stringed instrument, he moved it to a side window. Telling the distraught elderly woman that he didn’t see it, he went about his work only to return later that night. Using his ladder, he went through the upstairs window to retrieve the melodic booty from its hiding place. Bakke tried to sell the piece — which he valued at about $5,000.00 — to a Texas auction house. He found out the item was actually worth about $225,000.00. Seems conscience got the better of the Batman and he turned himself into police saying he intended to sell the mandolin and give the proceeds to the senior citizen as a “surprise” to improve her living conditions. Seems not only comic book creators are adept at fiction.
It’s hard for me to imagine a more despicable crime that one against elderly victims but it’s an all too often occurrence. There is no national repository of crime statistics involving the elderly and no national victimization survey specific to elder abuse, but there is widespread agreement among law enforcement that “fraud in general is dramatically underreported” by the elderly. Most elderly victims are either unaware of the crime or too embarrassed to report it fearing their independence might be compromised by well-meaning family or a court system all too quick to declare them unfit or incompetent to handle their own affairs. I think crime against the elderly deserves a lot more study and a focused effort to prevent this abuse and then to catch perpetrators. It’s both a debt of honor and an efficient use of law enforcement resources to protect this growing population of those most vulnerable to crime.
What do you think?
~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger